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Honduras Under Pressure to Restore Civil Liberties


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Pressure is mounting on the interim Honduran government to restore civil liberties and negotiate an end to the three-month-long stalemate over the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya in a coup.

Adolfo Facusse, the leader of an influential business group, has proposed a plan that would allow Mr. Zelaya to be reinstated with limited powers, under a plan brokered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

Facusse also wants the ousted president to face prosecution on corruption charges, and wants a multinational force be deployed to ensure Mr. Zelaya abides by the agreement.

The proposal suggests interim President Roberto Micheletti is losing support among the internal factions that supported the June 28 coup. Micheletti has also been denounced by the international community since imposing a decree restricting free speech and the right to freely assemble.

The de facto government in Tegucigalpa shut down two broadcast outlets, Radio Globo and TV Channel 36, it said were closely tied to Mr. Zelaya.

The political crisis has intensified since Mr. Zelaya secretly returned to Honduras last week and sought shelter in the Brazilian embassy. Micheletti's government has given Brazil 10 days to define the status of the ousted president, but has since pledged that nothing will happen to the diplomatic mission.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday said threats to the Brazilian Embassy where Mr. Zelaya is sheltered are "unacceptable" and "intolerable."

Speaking to a conference on the Americas in Coral Gables, Florida Tuesday, Mr. Arias said presidential elections scheduled for late November in Honduras will not be internationally recognized as long as Micheletti remains in charge.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said it is time for the de facto government to have dialogue with Mr. Zelaya to resolve the current situation. He said the United States welcomes ongoing efforts by the Organization of American States to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The interim Honduran government has said an OAS commission is welcome to visit on October 7. Some OAS officials were expelled Sunday after traveling to the country to organize talks about the political crisis.

The interim government says it forced Mr. Zelaya out of office because he was trying to illegally change the constitution in order to extend his time in power.

Mr. Zelaya's supporters have held numerous protests to demand his reinstatement.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.